Newsletter Summer 2016/2017

December 16, 2016 posted in General

Cook’s Vacation

Summer is traditionally holiday time, although of course the business of feeding ourselves continues regardless of school holidays and days off from work.  The question is: how can the cook of the family get a break?  We’ve given it some thought, and the trusty barbecue seems the way to spread the load and minimize the effort. So, to make it as easy as possible, we’ve put together a big spice-coloured box filled with 20 of our favourite spice blends, and called it Cook’s Vacation.  It’s a great deal at $95.00 plus postage, and full of wonderful, natural, flavours.

Or get the same selection in our handy little spice storage tray, for $105.00 plus postage.

Whatever Happened to Health? 

Have you noticed over the past few years that the emphasis is on “wellness” – has health become a tired word, maybe sounding less interesting and less modern than wellness? (But ask people how they are, and the answer will be “good” rather than “well” … but that’s a topic for pedants, and for another time and place.)  Whichever word you choose to use, the message is that eating well doesn’t mean eating boring food.  There are so many wonderful flavours to be found in unadulterated herbs and spices that there is no need to rely on deep-frying, over-salting, added sugar and creamy richness to satisfy your taste buds.  And gloopy, slimy thickeners in salad dressings … what’s the meaning of that? Keep an eye on the recipes that Kate regularly uploads onto the Herbie’s website to see just how enjoyable and easy it can be to eat well.

Salad Dressing

Are you looking at your bottle of slimy, gloopy, purchased salad dressing now that I’ve mentioned it?  Wondering why you bought it?  Forgotten that making your own is so very easy?  Just mix your preferred amount of olive oil and vinegar – we like about 70% oil to 30% acidity – and add a little mustard powder to it … say half a teaspoon if you’re making about a cup of dressing.  The mustard works as the emulsifier to keep the oil and vinegar in suspension for a little while after you’ve shaken or stirred the dressing. (That’s what the slimy/gloopy act is all about.)  Our preferred salad dressing also has a touch of pomegranate molasses in it too, (say one tablespoon to your cup of dressing) to give it a delicious richness.

There is another lovely trick when it comes to dressing your summer salads.  Combine in a little screw-top jar about ½ cup olive oil with a good teaspoon of smoked paprika.  Give it a shake then leave it to look after itself for a day or two, shaking it once or twice during that time.  The paprika will settle to the bottom, and you will have gorgeous, rosy-coloured, smoke-flavoured oil to drizzle over hummus, dips, roasted vegetables and salads.  Just pour it slowly and carefully so that the sediment stays at the bottom of the jar, or spoon out what you need.

Box of Ideas

Many people have suggested that we have a Spice Club, involving an annual subscription and mailouts of various herbs, spices and blends for club members to try.  We think our seasonal Box of Ideas is a better way to go – there is no need for an annual commitment from you, and each box is unique and filled with products to increase your repertoire and introduce something new.  Each season you can make your decision whether or not to spend the $25.00 plus postage on it.  We’re pleased to see how many of you are enjoying a regular Box of Ideas!

This season, our Summer Box of Ideas features our ever-popular Curry Mix with Whole Seeds, plus Black Sesame Seeds, Tiger’s Spice, Pink “Shinus” Peppercorns, and Rosewater, accompanied as always by delicious easy summer recipes and a couple of special-occasion Christmas ones too.  Because there are sesame seeds in this kit, don’t order it if allergies are a problem.

There is a Pomegranate Seed Crisis!

There are none available at all that are not enhanced with sticky sugar syrup. Although the sugar makes them quite yummy to nibble on, it compromises the product. So that’s why we’re out of stock, and we’ll have them back for you as soon as we can. And speaking of such things, the fabulous freeze-dried ginger powder that we’ve been proud to offer you is no longer being made in Australia.  So we see yet another victim of the cheapness-is-everything race to the bottom that is being forced upon our primary and secondary producers … dairy farmers, winemakers, and even ginger producers. (See the oregano scandal mentioned in our Winter newsletter.)  Fortunately our Indian pepper supplier is also making freeze-dried ginger, so it should be back in stock soon. It makes our mission of bringing you the very best more and more of a challenge.

We are often asked what our three “desert island” spices would be.  As there are two of us, it’s fair to have a list of six, so here they are:

Pepper – who could live without it? The only spice provided free on airlines!

Cumin – for its fantastic earthy, gutsy flavour

Cardamom – for the light liveliness it gives to everything, sweet or savoury

Chilli – for a frisson of heat, infinitely variable depending on quantity

Turmeric – to make fish moilee using the coconut and fish from the island!

Coriander Seed – to bring all spice flavours together, and make the island insects and weeds palatable.

We wonder what your favourites are, and what you can’t live without.  Do let us know!

Black Cumin Seeds

We all know the frustration of being overpowered by bureaucracy at times.  If you’re a lover of black cumin seeds, we have sad news, as they are no longer allowed into Australia unless they have been irradiated, or steam treated here in Australia.  We know you don’t want irradiated spices, and the cost of steam sterilizing the small amount that we bring in would make the price to you absolutely prohibitive.  You can draw some comfort, perhaps, in knowing that half the recipe-writers asking for black cumin have probably confused it with nigella anyway.

Spice & Herb Bible – Third Edition

As Christmas approaches, remember that, until our Canadian publisher has the new reprint of Herbie’s Spice and Herb Bible – Third Edition available, the hard-cover version is still at the great bargain price of $39.95.  Could it be that it would be just right for the foodie in your family?  When you order spice kits for Christmas, please give us and our delivery system a week to get them to you.

Have a Happy and Spicy Festive Season!

Herbie and Liz

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